Unit sales of Blu-ray Players increased 72 percent, as consumer awareness reached 90 percent in the first quarter of 2009, according to the latest point-of-sale (POS) tracking data from The NPD Group.
First quarter (Q1) sales of stand-alone Blu-ray players in the U.S. grew to more than 400,000 units, an increase of 72 percent over Q1 2008. Dollar sales increased 14 percent, to reach $107.2 million according to NPD?s retail tracking service.
"The rising penetration of high-definition televisions and lower Blu-ray player prices are broadening the format?s market opportunity," said Ross Rubin, director of industry analysis at NPD. "Even as options expand for accessing movies digitally, Blu-ray is carrying forward the widespread appeal of DVD into the high-definition marketplace."
NPD?s "Blu-ray Report" March 2009 update revealed that overall consumer awareness of the BD format in the United States has reached 90 percent awareness in the past six months. Purchase intent for Blu-ray set-top boxes also rose slightly in NPD?s most recent tracking surveys, with 6 percent of respondents saying they would be "extremely or very likely" to buy in the next six months, compared with 5 percent who responded similarly in the August report. Despite these high awareness levels, more than half of adults (58 percent) continue to report that they were still "not very familiar" with BD.
While consumers who purchased BD players when they first came to market were primarily concerned with having the latest technology, and not much concerned about the higher price tag, recent BD player buyers report being influenced most often by pricing, promotions, and sales. As a result actual prices and consumer expectations are increasingly in alignment. When queried about the reasons for not purchasing BD, respondents reported that their current DVD player is "good enough," they feel the cost of hardware or software is an issue, or they simply aren?t interested in the product.
According to NPD?s retail tracking service, the average selling price (ASP) for a stand-alone BD player fell nearly 34 percent -- from $393 dollars in Q1 2008 to $261 in Q1 2009. NPD?s report indicates that consumers who claim that they are likely to buy in the next six months expect to pay $214 on average.
"The leading driver of Blu-ray purchase intent is recommendations from friends, family or co-workers," said NPD?s entertainment industry analyst, Russ Crupnick. "Blu-ray?s superiority used to be difficult for many consumers to grasp, but when friends rave about it, or demonstrate Blu-ray in their homes, they are selling the benefits in a way that is far more effective than simply viewing an advertisement or seeing it demonstrated at a retail store."
Futuresource consulting, another research comapny, has also predicted that despite the economic downturn, global shipments of Blu-ray players, excluding PS3, are
expected to total nearly 12m units this year.
The research firm also expects the first commercial 3D Blu-ray Disc release no sooner than 2011, due to the current lack of technology standards ensuring that content will reliably play on all available 3D display devices.